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The European Union and Border Conflicts: The Power of Integration and Association , edited by T.Diez, M.Albert and S.Stetter ( Cambridge : Cambridge University Press , 2008 , ISBN 9780521709491 ); xiv + 265pp , £17.99 pb .

It is an article of faith amongst supporters of European integration that the European Union has a central role to play in the management of conflict. Indeed, as this work points out, ‘there has always been a close link between European integration and peace’ (p. 13). But how far does this hold beyond the ‘dominant’ example of Franco–German border conflict, which lay at the heart of the European project? More specifically, what role does the EU have in managing the range of conflicts that it still faces on its frontiers, either in those states that may yet become members of the European Union or amongst those that sit just beyond its reach?

This volume attempts to analyse and explore just how far the EU can regulate and resolve contemporary conflicts in the European neighbourhood. To do so, it develops an interesting and novel theoretical structure based on what the editors call ‘paths of perturbation’. These are defined as ways in which the ‘EU destabilizes the conflict by provoking a “conflict within a conflict”’ (p. 24), and are identified in terms of ‘compulsory’, ‘enabling’, ‘connective’ and ‘constructive’ impacts. To examine these, the work explores five case studies: Ireland, Greece and Turkey, Cyprus, the Arab–Israeli conflict and Northern European border disputes.

Overall, the approach yields interesting and persuasive insights as to the various ways in which the EU can shape conflicts, and provides a coherent and useful framework for analysis. The case studies are generally well-informed and competently handled. Perhaps the most noteworthy was the one that explored the conflicts between Russia and the EU members – a topic that tends to receive less attention than the others, but has been given greater significance as a result of the Russian–Georgian conflict in August 2008. In contrast, the contribution on the Arab–Israeli conflict appeared a little out of place inasmuch as it deals with a dispute that the EU is unlikely to be able to have a direct bearing over in terms of offering eventual membership to the various parties. On this note, it was also somewhat surprising that the Balkans were not covered in the volume.

As the European Union looks ahead to further expansion, this volume represents a useful contribution to an increasingly relevant field of investigation for academics and practitioners.